Mile-High Swinging Bridge Dedicated

Umstead (center, behind girl) dedicates the bridge with developer Hugh Morton (front right) and others. Image from UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries.On September 2, 1952, gubernatorial candidate William B. Umstead dedicated Grandfather Mountain’s Mile-High Swinging Bridge near Linville, and his daughter Merle became the first person to cross it. 

Hugh Morton was the man behind the now-famous bridge.  In 1947 Morton returned from military service overseas and assumed control of the Linville Improvement Company, which owned Grandfather Mountain.  After his grandfather Hugh MacRae died in 1951, the company was dissolved and the next year Morton inherited Grandfather Mountain in the division of land among family.  At the time the only road up the mountain led to Cliffside Overlook, where visitors could enjoy the view and a small gift shop.  Morton envisioned building a bridge between Grandfather’s Convention Table Rock and Linville Peak to improve visitors’ access to the best scenic overlooks.

Designed by Greensboro architect Charles Hartmann, Jr., and fabricated by Truitt Manufacturing Company in Greensboro, the 228-foot suspension bridge was reassembled in three weeks at Grandfather Mountain by Craven Steel Erecting Company. The total cost was $15,000.

In 1999, the mostly wooden bridge was rebuilt using galvanized steel at a cost of $300,000.

Former state tourism director Charles J. Parker coined the name “Mile-High Swinging Bridge” at the 1952 dedication. While the bridge’s elevation is slightly more than a mile above sea level, it actually hangs only 80 feet above the ground.

And while suspension bridges can swing, especially in high winds, thick cables anchor Grandfather Mountain’s bridge to the ground, limiting its movement.

 

 

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